I’ll be the first to admit that I had no business dating someone who was thirty.
I was a 22 year old college student who liked to consider herself unemotionally attached following a heart-breaking break-up. I wasn’t interested in dating. I worked two part time jobs on top of going to school full-time. Any extra time I had was devoted to studying. I had no time for dating.
J was a typical 30 year old bachelor who had lived through many different life experiences. The difference between him and I was that he was ready to settle down. He was well established in his career in warehousing as well as being an on-call firefighter.
Needless to say, we were completely opposite of each other in every aspect of our lives, and we already had so much against us. Yet we were willing to to take a risk on us.
There are many things I learned from dating a 30 year old:
1) Age truly doesn’t matter-it’s emotional maturity that matters. We both had a slight guard up when we first started dating. I was newly single and he had had his share of failed relationships. We both had to grow from our pasts and make sure that we were both ready for whatever lie ahead for us and our relationship. We both had different levels of emotional maturity, and it was important for us to both accept that.
2) Communication and honesty is key. We learned very quickly that we communicated very differently. We had to discuss what kind of communication we expected of each other in the relationship, and we said that we had to be honest with each other at all times. We didn’t want any lies between us.
3) Patience is imperative. We had to be patient with each other right away because whether we admitted it or not, the age gap between us definitely tested us on many levels. The age difference placed us in different generational gaps and we were both in different stages of our lives. I wasn’t as mature as he was. I was still in school and hadn’t experienced life the way that he had already. He had been so displaced from the college life that he couldn’t relate with me on different things. We had to learn to be patient and understanding of the differences that we did have.
4) People will judge your relationship. Because of the age gap, we had people judging us automatically. People told him that I was seeking a guy to take care of me while others told him I wouldn’t stick around because I was only looking for a good time. People told me that he was too old for me and that I was just the flavor of the week. I was told to prepare myself for more heartache. The reality is that we were together because we liked each other and enjoyed spending time together. We didn’t know where the relationship was headed but neither one of us was out to the hurt the other. There was a time that I almost broke off our relationship because of outside sources, but the love I had for him trumped the naysayers.
5) Respect each other. I probably wouldn’t have admitted it back when we first started dating, but he gave me some of the best advice I have ever gotten in my young adult life. He still provides me with invaluable advice and insight into life. I learned very quickly to respect him as had experienced some of things I was dealing with and helped me through them.
6) Older men are set in their ways. Don’t try to change them. Older men are very much stuck in their ways and although we’d like to see them change different aspects of their life, the reality is they may or may not do it. I learned with J that he hated change. When we first started dating and when we moved in together, we both had to make some compromises to make it work for us both.
7) The personal flaws you see in yourself are non-existent in their eyes. The demise of my previous relationship left me with a troubled self-esteem and I oftentimes judged myself too harshly. J made it very clear that the thoughts I had on myself were silly and irrational. He made me feel beautiful with very little effort. Even though I still struggle with this from time to time, he is there to tell me otherwise.
8) They know their way around in the bedroom. To write something about what dating a 30 year old taught me without including this fact would be unrealistic; however, I will refrain from going into detail.
9) They don’t have as much energy as you. This is very true in our case. I can get up early in the morning on very little sleep and start my day without hesitation. J, on the other hand, takes a while to wake up before he even contemplates starting his day.
10) They’re in it for the long haul. At least in my case he was. He told me the first month or so of us dating that he was looking for settle down and if I wasn’t ready, then to get out now. I fell hard for J, so I told him I was in it for the long haul as well.
I will never regret hooking up with J at the young age of 22. He has taught me so much, and I have taught him a lot as well in return. As I get ready to enter my last year in my 20’s, I will say that dating someone who was 30 was the best choice I ever could have made. Don’t be afraid of dating someone older. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. Age really doesn’t matter if you’re willing to make compromises and work as a team to make the relationship work. I won’t say that everyone who has dated someone older had the same awesome outcome, but I would most certainly argue that both parties involved learned some valuable lessons from each other.